|System: PS3*, Xbox 360, PC|
|Dev: IO Interactive|
|Pub: Square Enix|
|Release: November 20, 2012|
|Screen Resolution: 480p-1080p||Blood, Intense Violence, Partial Nudity, Sexual Themes, Strong Language, Use of Drugs|
The levels’ expansive, interconnected nature, and the subsequent feeling of never fully knowing if you’ve seen the best the game has to offer, are the primary sources of Absolution’s play value. But they’re not the only ones. Each level is scored based on how much skill you display throughout the area. Get by unnoticed, or take down your mark without laying a finger on him, her, or the trigger, and you’ll be rewarded with a higher number. Getting the highest rank of “Silent Assassin” is a challenge even on Normal mode, and essentially requires you to play through each level multiple times in order to memorize the lays of the land by heart.
The enemy A.I. here is solid, by the way. They coordinate and work together well, forcing 47 to lay low behind some sort of cover at almost all times. One dumb move will usually mar the rest of your time in a particular level, so care and precision are near-constant requirements. The baddies are little more than cannon fodder during larger shootouts, although those—if you couldn’t tell from their pedestrian controls or the fact that you’re not rewarded with points for engaging in them—are not Absolution’s number one assassination method of choice anyways.
Further adding to the replayability factor is a new mode called Contracts, a sort of half-mission, half-level creator that allows players to make up their own assassinations—well, contracts—and share them with the rest of the Absolution community. While not as all-encompassing as the level creator in, say, inFamous 2, Contracts mode is quick, enjoyable, and easy to use. You just have to pick one of the story mode’s levels, mark one or more of the NPCs found within as targets, take them out in whatever fashion you’d like, and then choose which exit to escape through. Depending on who you killed, what weapon you used to complete the hit, how you were dressed when you did it, and various other factors, Absolution will create the terms of the new, soon-to-be-shared mission for you and let you upload it for the world to play.
So, when I headed over to Chicago’s Chinatown district dressed as a giant chipmunk to chuck an axe as Chef Ning Tan’s face—this is all real—and then exited without alerting any cops, my mission (I named it “Crouching Tiger, Flying Ax”) was born. In order to fulfill the terms of my contract, players will have to kill who I killed, dressed as I was, and exit they way I exited. If they succeed, they’ll get a payment, which can then be spent on various unlockable outfits, weapons, and the like. If they don’t alert anyone, they’ll get a bonus. Whether or not the Contracts mode takes off with the community is still unknown, but the potential is certainly there for even more hours of replay to be added onto an already deep single-player experience.
I’m about 1,500 words into this review and I still feel like I haven’t told you about everything Hitman: Absolution has to offer. In a way, though, that’d only be fitting for a game like this. Despite being a strictly single-player experience, Absolution packs more replay value into its two game modes than most games would do with five. It has its fair share of deficiencies—a goofy narrative, okay gunplay, a few bugs here and there—but overall, Absolution is a game that demands you explore its nuances over and over again. Just be sure to stay quiet when you do so.
Date: November 18, 2012